March 12, 2011

#2 Saints Take Thriller over #3 Blazers in Extra Innings

DAHLONEGA, GA – The 2nd-ranked North Georgia softball team pulled off their biggest comeback of the year on Saturday afternoon, scoring three unanswered runs to sneak by 3rd-ranked Valdosta State at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium in game two of the Captain D's Classic.

The Saints improve to 22-3 on the year as they win their first of four straight games against top-five teams in the country, while Valdosta State splits on the day after taking down Tusculum 3-0 in the opening game of the classic as the Blazers move to 8-2 overall on the year.

The Blazers jumped on top in the first inning, using some clutch two-out hitting as Natalia Morozova drilled a triple to the gap in left-center, sending Ashley Steinhilber and Colette Rollins racing home and giving Valdosta State an early 2-0 lead.

The Saints had a chance to score a pair of runs of their own in the first inning when Ansley Williams led off and sent a double down the left field and Kasey Knight followed and reached base, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

North Georgia then went cold at the plate, sending three straight ground outs to the right side and leaving both runners stranded as the Blazers held on to their two-run lead.

Both pitcher's then settled in from there, putting zeros across the board until the bottom of the sixth inning when Williams led off and connected with her fifth home a run of the year, a towering fly ball to the gap in left center that cleared the fence and cut the Valdosta State lead in half at 2-1.

After a pair of ground outs looked to end the threat in the sixth inning, North Georgia came alive with back-to-back infield singles by Pilar Harden and Katherine Martin to set the stage for Callie Fernandez who guided a single down the right field line, sending Harden racing home to knot the score at 2-2. Martin was caught in a rundown on the play trying to score from first, ending the inning and capping a two-run frame for the Saints.

After a scoreless seventh inning, the international tiebreaker was put into effect, putting VSU a runner on second base to start the inning. Jessica Coan was forced to be perfect in the circle for the Saints and she was just that, coaxing a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to third base, before Marti Littlefield went down swinging on a full count for the second out of the inning. An intentional walk put runners on the corners and Morozova grounded out to Knight at shortstop, ending the threat and sending North Georgia to the dish for the chance for a walk-off win.

Williams was placed on second in the last of the eighth and Knight followed and ripped a single to left field, putting runners at second at third with no outs. After a line out by Hilary Cox recorded the first out of the inning, Harden sent a seeing-eye single down the right field line, sending Williams racing home and giving North Georgia a 3-2 comeback win.

Coan (9-2) was stellar for the Saints once again, tossing all 8.0 innings and allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out 11 Blazers along the way. Holly Satterfield (4-1) suffered the loss for Valdosta State, tossing 7.1 innings and giving up three runs, two of them earned, while striking out two and walking one.

The Saints return to action later this evening, taking on 4th-ranked Alabama-Huntsville in game four of the Captain D's Classic. First pitch at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium is set for 6:00 p.m.